Rating: 8/10 (Amazing and Message Oriented)
Superstar Mahesh Babu, the beloved actor who everyone likes in Tollywood has not been in great form recently as his last two films 1 and Aagadu haven't been upto expectations. He's joined hands with Koratala Siva, who delivered a blockbuster in Mirchi for a film called Srimanthudu. How is the movie? A sure shot blockbuster hit. Find out why
Story: Harshavardhan (Mahesh Babu) is the son of an industrial billionaire Ravikanth (Jagaptahi Babu). He has a disconnected relationship with his son and hopes that one day he will take over the reigns of the company and run it himself. But Harsha has never really shown any interest in that. Ravikanth is stubborn and arrogant while his son is the exact opposite and is caring and empathetic to anyone he feels needs his help. His father decides the get him married but that doesn't work out. Harsha falls in love with Charuseela (Shruthi Hassan), a student studying about agricultural development. Interested in the same course, he enrolls himself in the same college and class as her. After expressing his love to her, she rejects him and tells him that his father left her village and went to become something else and never cared for the people. Harsha, eager to find out the truth, decides to go to the village himself and leaves his house. How Harsha solves all the problems of the village and finally wins his fathers' love forms the rest of this movie.
Performances: Mahesh Babu has delivered arguably the best performance of his career. Harsha is the most complex character he's ever played in his career and he performs with so much ease and elegance that he single handedly elevates the film to the next level. He looks extremely handsome as always and is an absolute wrecking machine in fights. His new physique is highly impressive and Mahesh beats up every single goon with ease. The Mamidi thota fight is heroism elevated to the peak and Mahesh's performance in this scene is just too good. You cannot imagine any other actor in this role and Srimanthudu belongs to Superstar Mahesh.
Shruthi Hassan as Charuseela has a decent role and performs well. But the dubbing is a bit awkward when compared to her real voice.
Jagapathi Babu is incredible and fits the role of Ravikanth to the T. He gives Mahesh Babu a run for his money in terms of looks. At age 54, he looks too damn stylish. Rajendra Prasad has a very important role as Narayana Murthy and brings emotional depth to the film. He is excellent and convincing as always.
Mukesh Rishi, Sampath Raj, and Harish Uthaman do the usual villain fare and get the living daylights beaten out of them by Mahesh over the course of the film. Sampath has the best chance to perform out of all of them.
Sravan is decent in the wedding fight. Sukanya, Subbaraju, and Thulasi are wasted. Rahul Ravindran leaves an impact as Karthik.
Technicalities: Music and Background Score by DSP is very good. All the songs are beautifully shot and are good to listen to on screen. Background music in Mamidi Thota and Cheruvu fights are amazing. Dialogues by Koratala Siva has mass and class appeal. They are excellent. Cinematography by Madhie is world class. The visuals in Srimanthudu are truly amazing and Madhie has done it once again after Mirchi. Art by AS Prakash is excellent. Editing by Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao is ok but the film has enough content to last the 158 minute duration. Fights by Anal Arasu are just incredible. These are arguably some of the best fights ever composed in TFI history. The marriage fight is very stylish and cool, interval fight is creative, Mamidi Thota fight is the best fight in the last decade, Cheruvu fight is excellent and Climax is alright. This man has composed some superb fights and some punches are over the top but they are seem real. Production Values by Mythri Movie Makers and Mahesh Babu are outstanding. The movie is visually stunning in all departments.
Analysis: When directors deliver a successful film and they get good recognition for it, they usually commit a folly and succumb to what is known as 2nd movie syndrome and they deliver a half baked product. Koratala Siva has done a rare thing and has delivered one of the best films ever made in his 2nd attempt. Srimanthudu is not a mindless masala film.
It is a message oriented film with content that appeals to class and mass audiences at the same time and has enough to impress anyone who decides to watch it. Siva has stayed from punch dialogues and over the top action and everything proceeds according to the script. It is a bold move from a huge star like Mahesh Babu to accept a film that is based on content and not do a film which is suited to cater to his image or fans.
The film opens by showcasing Ravikanth not wanting to go his employees' Rama festival. And then Harsha enters and does a good deed because he has a heart of gold and believes in giving back and helping people, whoever they may be. The films then delves into the strained father and son relationship and then Shruthi Hassan enters and the film really only takes off once she rejects Mahesh.
The interval bang is superb and sets up the 2nd half nicely. I like the way Siva showcased the village problem and didn't make it routine such as the villagers expect some savior to come and solve their problems and from the villains. Siva writing and dialogues are very good and the direction is even better. He had full control over the script the whole time and knew exactly what he wanted to show. The hero enters the village as a stranger and without revealing his status, helps everyone and soon becomes a favorite for the villagers. The message in the movie is about giving back to society and remembering your roots and delivers it in the most commercial way possible.
The film has so many good scenes and Mahesh talking about his village and pleading Rajendra Prasad's brother to stay in the village is truly a touching scene. The 1st half is all class and the 2nd half is all mass.
On a whole, Srimanthudu is an incredible film from Mahesh Babu and Koratala Siva and is going to be a sure shot blockbuster. It has all the commercial elements and an engaging story, great visuals, music and action sequences.
It is not your regular mass masala film and is content and message oriented. If you're a Mahesh Babu fan, this film is a feast for you and if you're not, then Srimanthudu is still a great watch for any Telugu movie fan. I'm going with 8.5 for Mahesh, Siva's direction, the fights, music and the visuals.